CUCA releases Fresher’s Guide “for matriculating ladies and gentlemen”
There were 4 pages dedicated to the specifics and function of formal wear.
The Cambridge University Conservative Association has released its Fresher’s guide to university life, advising incoming freshers on all facets of student life. The publication titled The Cambridge Directory contains information on everything from grocery shopping to formal dining.
At 24 pages long, the guide aims to present ways of keeping your Tory traditions alive in a constituency that hasn’t been held by the Conservative party since the days of Thatcher. Presenting itself as ‘a political pamphlet that encountered a lifestyle mag’, the directory opens with recommendations from the Cambridge food market before (in typical fashion) discussing the best places to buy wine. Recommended restaurants include Cambridge Chop House, Aromi and La Galeria, while Harriet’s Tearoom is preferred to Fitzbillies for its ‘fresher and more delicate sandwiches’.
Culture is certainly not neglected, showcasing the city’s Theatre, Opera and Music scene (even Strawberries and Cream gets a mention, how wild!). Garden parties and May Balls inevitably feature, recommending students stay ‘on the ball’ when it comes to procuring tickets, while reminding students of the ‘CUCA maxim for life’: ‘More Important than which ball you attend though, is who you go with’.
The directory’s true tour de force though, is the guide to formal wear, warranting a double page spread for each of the sexes. While the women’s guide offers money-saving tips (such as buying black tie dresses from H&M), the men’s guide goes into minute details, advocating braces over belts and explaining the true meaning of a cummerbund (I’d google that one).
With Oxford topping the university rankings (in a manner reminiscent of Leicester’s premier league win), it’s good to see someone at Cambridge still cares about the need for peaked lapels (although if a pinch, a shawl collar will of course suffice). The guide particularly stresses the need to tie your own bow tie, denigrating the pre-tied crowd as ‘the sartorial equivalent of wearing stabilisers at the tour de France’.
While Oxford University Labour Club remains shaken over the anti-Semitism enquiry, CUCA finds the time to rank formal etiquette by grade. While breaking your bread with your hands and ‘working in’ on your cutlery might snag you a mid 2:1, you’ll need to provide both conversation and appreciation to achieve the coveted first (unfortunate for the socially awkward).
So far, the guide has reached over 6000 people, with around 1500 reads. CUCA exclusively told The Tab that it “sprung out of love” for Cambridge’s shops, restaurants, sport, places of worship and customs” and “aims to explain these things accessibly”. CUCA “also wanted to take the opportunity to show the University community that CUCA is fairly normal and has a sense of humour”.
“We have been, frankly, staggered by the reaction. We had no idea what to expect, but half-feared being dismissed as prats advising others on the finer points of prattishness. It seems as though we couldn’t have been more wrong, and have been particularly delighted to hear from Freshers saying that we provided answers to questions they’d have felt awkward asking.”
CUCA provided The Tab with an exclusive comment from Fresher Cyryl Gierynski as a sample of the feedback they’ve received. “I was was very pleased to receive the CUCA guide. It was put together very well and written with a great sense of humour. But most importantly it gave great advice on numerous small issues, such as where to obtain good wine, that I’m sure will prove invaluable during the first few weeks at Cambridge. Overall a great guide that really stands out from the others.”
And yes, CUCA recommends wearing college scarves. What a surprise.